“Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.”
Matthew 3:13 (NLT)
Before Jesus performed a single miracle, the Gospels tell us He went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. Why was this so significant, and what does it mean for us today? Consider John’s point of view. He recognized Jesus as the sinless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world! John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, but Jesus had nothing to repent of! Little wonder that John protests Jesus’ request. In verse 14, John replies,
But John tried to talk Him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by You,” he said, “so why are You coming to me?”
John saw himself as the sinner in need of the Savior to baptize him – not the other way around. He couldn’t understand why Jesus would be coming to him. How often has Jesus come to you with requests for your service that have confused and humbled you? Sometimes, His plan and His purposes don’t make sense to us and we feel unqualified for the task. Not me! Who am I that I should be the one to do this? John’s heart was sincere, honest and confused. Can you relate? God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are greater than our thoughts. It was an act of faith and obedience for John to do what Jesus asked of him. The same is true for you and me. Despite how unqualified we may feel and underserving we are, Jesus delights in engaging us with His work! He didn’t rebuke John for asking, “Why are you coming to me?” Instead, He answered His question in verse 15.
But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize Him.
The Amplified Bible translates Jesus’ response like this:
But Jesus replied to him, Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him.
As you trace the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels, you’ll see that He always walked in alignment with the Father’s will. His baptism was no exception. It would inaugurate His ministry. The Father affirmed His relationship with His Son publicly at His baptism for all to see. Matthew records it in verses 16 and 17.
After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.
What an intimate moment of affirmation! It was also a moment of identification. Through His baptism, Jesus identified with sinful man. His baptism foreshadowed His own death, burial and resurrection that would fulfill all righteousness! The Bible says,
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV2011)
When you and I take that step of faith in believer’s baptism, we are identifying with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. It is a sacred symbol of our faith. He wasn’t ashamed to identify with us, and we should never be ashamed to identify with Him! It’s also an opportunity for the Father to affirm His love for us that we were worth dying for!
Only God knows the miracles He will unfold as we continue the journey in faith, but baptism is the first step of obedience to Him. If you haven’t taken that step in your walk with Christ, we welcome you to join us at Woodlands Church this weekend for our annual Fall Baptism Celebration. You can register now to join us after one of our weekend services at any of our campuses! It’s a celebration of life change! If you’re not in our area, I encourage you to find a church home where you can be baptized!